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Picture this: You open the door in front of you and step in. Suddenly, you feel like you have been transported into a whole new world! You take a deep breath in and detect the smell of books, and see yourself engulfed with shelves and shelves of books. Sounds like every book lover’s dream!

For any reader, bookstores are the place where their bookish heart resides. Nothing brings a book lover more joy than to see, feel and touch a book, flip through the pages, then leave the store with a bag full of new works as well as a large smile on the face.

Independent bookstores are shops that are independently owned and usually one single store, unlike a chain of retail stores such as Barnes & Noble.

Let’s explore some of the independent bookstores peppered across the city of Houston that you can visit and support!

Brazos Bookstore

Founded in 1974, Brazos Bookstore was established by Karl Kilian to foster the growth of emerging Houston literature. The bookstore connects readers to all kinds of genres, including but not limited to contemporary, classic literature, historical fiction, non-fiction, art and children’s books. The business also sell cute bookish stickers, stationery and tote bags.

What makes Brazos Bookstore great is the way it supports emerging writers and readers through long partnerships, including the University of Houston Creative Writing Program. Moreover, the bookstore collaborates with various cultural organizations like Rice University, Asia Society and the Houston Public Library to promote literary events as well.

Brazos Bookstore also hosts its own free and interactive book signing events along with multiple book clubs, including events for kids.

You can learn more about the events held at the bookstore by viewing their event calendar!

Blue Willow Bookshop

Blue Willow Bookshop has been serving the Houston community at a cozy and cheerful spot in the West Memorial area since 1996. Besides selling so many great books, it also sells puzzles, stationery, gifts and other bookish goodies.

A distinctive feature of Blue Willow is having a blog where it covers Author Q&A sessions along with book reviews and recommendations. The shop also offers three in-store book clubs, so there is something for everyone!

Blue Willow also offers “Storytime” every Thursday at 10 a.m. to get the young children and toddlers enthusiastic about reading, with the theme changing every week.

You can learn more about the events held at the bookstore by viewing their event calendar!

Basket Books and Art

As the name suggests, the indie bookstore Basket Books and Art specializes not only in its poetry, literature and theory books but also in art.

Basket Books and Art is home to an art gallery, displaying captivating pieces at the exhibition space which can be found on the second floor of the building. The 700-square-foot exhibition space is devoted to portraying art from both local and global artists to create a connection between visual and literary arts, and that is what makes it stand out.

“Our goal is to offer a unique context in which art and books can co-mingle in exciting ways, opening up alleyways of conversation,” said the owners of the bookstore, Laura Hughes and Edwin Smalling.

You can learn more about the events held at the bookstore by viewing their event calendar!

Kindred Stories

The next bookstore on the list is a very specialized bookstore, Kindred Stories. Kindred Stories’ specialty is every book is written by Black, or other marginalized, authors. All of the books celebrate Black literature in a diverse range of genres. It is also home to fun stationery, novelties and bookish accessories curated by Black artisans.

The store launched in 2021 during the COVID-19 pandemic and has stuck ever since. What makes Kindred Stories great is the hope for more people to learn and educate themselves on Black literature, especially because the Black community is usually either misrepresented or underrepresented. The store aims to keep building a connection with its reader community and wishes to grow together, one book at a time.

You can learn more about the events held at the bookstore by viewing their event calendar!

Murder by the Book

Though the name may sound a little terrifying, Murder by the Book is an independent bookstore that specializes in selling murder mysteries and thrillers.

Established in 1980, Murder by the Book is one of the country’s oldest and largest mystery book specialty booksellers. The store is home to over 25,000 books, including used books, collectibles, signed copies, first editions, mystery magazines, puzzles and other novelties.

If you are an avid reader of thrilling suspense and “whodunnit” stories, you may want to stop by Murder by the Book and browse through the vast collection.

You can learn more about the events held at the bookstore by viewing their event calendar!

Bookstores capture the true essence of being a reader and unite them under one roof. Let’s make sure we play our part and support our local independent bookstores. By now, you hopefully have a few new bookstores to add to your travel list during the weekends or on your next day out, whether it be by yourself, with your friends or your family. Happy Reading!

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